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The Christmas Blues and Seasonal Depressive Mood Disorder

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Article by Christopher Swane

Christopher Swane Counselling Psychotherapy Profile | Email | Website
Christopher Swane Counselling Psychotherapy I am a relationship and couples counsellor based in Sydney for over 5 years with a further 5 years in Europe. I also assist clients with grief and loss counselling. Psychotherapy/counselling for men single men or part of relationship counselling and counselling for anxiety and depression. 254 Henderson Road
Australia 2015
0405 606 330


Over the last 10 days there have been several tragedies that may change the very core of Australian society. We have seen two events one in Martin Place the other in Cairns that will have many people asking where is Australia going and what type of future are we creating for ourselves and our nation. Although these events are not connected in any way they both occurred just prior to the festive season. And at the root of the problems both appear to involve issues of mental health.

The festive season is normally a time when families get together, exchanging presents and enjoying seasonal cheer. But it’s not the same for everyone. Some people face Christmas with very different feelings. Some people face Christmas with dread and anxiety while others experience Christmas as depressing. Seasonal depressive mood disorder is a common phenomenon.

Seasonal depressive mood disorder may begin days, weeks or even months before the Christmas season begins.

Seasonal depressive mood disorder commonly strikes singles, the elderly and divorcees, people for whom the Christmas period is a painful reminder of their loneliness. Others who may be affected are those who leave everything till the last moment. They become anxious because they believe they are not be able to complete the many tasks required before the beginning of the Christmas season and feel exceptionally harried.

The buying of gifts and cost of festivities may leave others concerned that they do not have sufficient funds to provide the special family Christmas that they want to provide. Not being able to provide for the family in the way that they would like may bring out feelings of shame, failure and guilt which may further compound the feelings of depression and anxiety.

People who experience seasonal mood disorder may sink into a deep depression and remain that way until the holiday season finishes. Seeing the happiness and excitement in others may intensify the feelings of loneliness and isolation. They may wonder what is wrong with them given that they cannot enjoy the holiday events like everyone. They may feel like they are looking through a glass window at a world where others are enjoying themselves while they feel isolated and alone.

In a Christmas Carol we see a similar experience with Ebenezer Scrooge. He is looking through a glass window at the Cratchit family who are enjoying the season’s festivities together on Christmas day. Scrooge can only watch the festivities - he is doomed to be an outsider unless he changes.

One of the greatest difficulties people face during the Christmas period is catching up with family members or relatives who they have argued with in previous years. People may view the Christmas period with dread as family members who fought and argued in previous years come together. The biggest fear for some people is not being alone but rather, who will turn up for the Christmas celebrations.

Last but not least. A problem that often raises its ugly head over the Christmas period is perfectionism.  Perfectionism is setting almost impossibly high standards for yourself and judging your self-worth based on your abilities to strive for and attain these standards. In respect to Christmas day it can be like a time bomb waiting to go off. Someone has failed to set the Christmas table according to your high standards or the carrots are slightly over cooked. You may react by either exploding in rage or feeling so depressed that you cannot enjoy any part of the rest of the day. Christmas is now ruined and no one understands. All the effort and care that went into creating the perfect Christmas for everyone is ruined. No amount of cajoling by family members to lift your spirits can change your feelings.

If you are experiencing problems during the Christmas season then talking to a counsellor may assist.




21 Dec 2014

Last Update: 26 Dec 2014

Article/Information supplied by Christopher Swane

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.